Divestment- Where do you see yourself in the future?
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

April 6, 2014

Divestment- The process of selling an asset. Also known as divestiture, it is made for either financial or social goals.

Watching the cars move through the intersections of Albuquerque city streets, I find myself listening to NPR (National Public Radio) as I sit in a parking lot waiting for an appointment to renew my CPR license. 20 till the hour and 20 minutes to burn, it a somewhat strange feeling being back in the Land of Enchantment. A year and a half has gone by and although it seems like ages, I find myself looking up at the ever constant brown Sandia Mountains under a blue bird day. Perhaps is has to do with where one is born and raised, but the current feeling of time standing still is more palpable than any other place. Maybe it is just one of the unique qualities of New Mexico; its ability to resist the constant onslaught of time.

So here I sit, listening to NPR and the segment Democracy Now. Amy Goodman is busily and skillfully discussing the recent IPCC or (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report that came out this past Monday. The report states what most of us expected and provides the further nail in the coffin proof of climate changes existence, our actions being the fundamental driver of it, and some of the inevitable consequences associated with it. This is not surprising.

What was surprising to hear concerns the forces in play actively fighting so fiercely in favor of maintaining our current ill-fated direction. Exon Mobile released a report to shareholders the same day on managing climate risk in which they fundamentally oppose a carbon tax, state the current and future demand of oil based on a growing population, and discuss how the outlook for production in the foreseeable future remains ingrained in society. In other words, “Investors, no worries, we’ll keep doing exactly what we’ve always done and we have no intention of altering whatsoever.” Meanwhile, on the 1st of April, the US House of Representatives advanced a bill that will limit NOAA from conducting research on climate change.

A picture worth a thousand words

A picture worth a thousand words: Where Exon Mobil sees oil and gas in 30 years…relatively the same as today.

These fundamental drivers of US policy and business require an equal and opposite reaction if we as a people are to define our future as we see it. That voice can be found in “Divestment.” Divestment, initially used to promote investors to take money out of South Africa in protest of the policy of Apartheid has since grown to incorporate numerous causes, the most recent being the investment of “green stock” vs. traditional energy stocks such as oil and gas.

As I start to recognize friends and colleagues getting older and starting to make investment decisions, our collective capital will increasingly decide our collective futures. Thus one may invest in Exon or Shell, and that person may make healthy returns financially, but that individual is also contributing to that companies current “status quo” observed unchanged, 50 years from now. This does not slam the idea of individuals earning money, but how one earns money is what divestment is all about. From Tesla motors to Solar City, Waste Management to Union Pacific, there are countless clean tech stocks that have seen blockbuster years on the market, many of which have out performed traditional oil and gas. Not only do these companies earn returns, they have a fundamental goal to make our society cleaner and or more efficient.

You may not own stock, but perhaps you participate or will one day in the form of a 401K, retirement plan, or through a 3rd party investment. Any form of investment, whether through healthy eating or exercise, work, or financial gain, fundamentally translates to how we are planning to live in the future. So, the questions are out there, the facts and science sits before us, and I have to ask, “what does your future look like?”

 

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